1. A Libation to Foreign gods
A society that imports her gods, has offered to live under the caprice of foreign pestilences. She has mortgaged her destiny to the insular enclaves of alien theologies. Her doctrines and dogma are overthrown by derivatives of alien thought patterns, rendered canonical by capricious and absentee conclaves. In such a theatre, foreign metaphysics rises to displace local values.Â Irreverent incoherence isolates and devastates local cosmologies. Local mores are alienated to make way for the import to march to supremacy. Such is the trajectory of the contact between an occupying power and native reality. This inheres in the fact that conquering powers are also epistemic imperialisms. For every conquest to be total, it must principally devastate the mental universe of the conquered; making it an ideological no-manâ€™s land or tabula rasa, upon which the conqueror and its agents proceed to rewrite or rewire the conceptual genetic blueprint of the conquered, to suit the designs of empire. This is why every imperialism battles to dethrone local conceptual schemes, usurp the role of local values in the lives of the conquered; lording it over local pedestals of meaning and theories of value, with all the inquisitorial decisiveness and totalitarian recklessness that has underwritten every enterprise of imperialism.
If not, how can a society commission its own collapse? How can a society hand over its head on a platter to a conqueror because he asked for it? How can a people yield their gods to be decapitated or burnt at the conquerorâ€™s fires simply because the conqueror just showed up, knocked on the door and politely asked for that? No society commissions its own self-destruction. Any society that ever collapsed succumbed to some force or pressure. Those societies were conquered; either from within or from without. They bow to the onslaught of one or more complex set of factors. Most of them succumbed either to the conquest of invincible ignorance; the arrogant over, or underestimation of its capabilities and chances in the face of novel threats; or the overwhelming firepower of conquerors guns, germs, treachery, or steel as Professor Jared Diamond tried to articulate.
By conquering the native epistemic authority, the conqueror secures either their timid acquiescence in the face of their exploitation, or the collaboration of their ignorance in their own destruction. To that end, whenever imperialism makes a landfall, it shocks and awes local sensibilities with the crude violence it advertises, the superlative savagery it consults, and the ruthless perfidy it deploys. It massacres opposition into submission. Â Treachery is the software of its transactions in such instances. The ruthlessness of the violence shocks the recipients into psychological immobility. It knocks their resistance cold. They are frozen in awe of the new phenomenon. It assaults the citadels of local meaning. It rapes local epistemologies, which have no response to this onslaught. It mocks the local deities which neither anticipated such catastrophes, nor have responses to them. This creates a social psycho-trauma that packs the destructive equivalent of Giga-tons of Hiroshima-grade nuclear explosion. Many societies cannot but succumb to this ruthless force or risk instant extinction. At this, the conquering power then gains a foothold. With this foothold, the conquered society is then â€˜invitedâ€™ to cannibalise itself; pressurized into participation in its own funeral; or genetically re-engineered into convoking its own self destruction by instalments. Â
One major reservoir of a cultureâ€™s epistemic authority is its language. And a culture is conquered when the conqueror succeeds in imposing its own language as the vehicle of meaning upon the conquered. At this, the accreted putrescence of other climes rides roughshod infecting native conceptual flora; engendering some toxic erosion of local meaning and significance. It is just a matter of time before such societies end up importing every other thing; from the pseudo-sublime to the most ridiculous rejects of the conqueror. This is a normal trajectory. Since such a society has â€˜chosenâ€™ the pontificating pronunciations of foreign epistemologies to interpret her values for her, she has offered to see reality from the eyes of her conquerors. Everything the conqueror canonizes, even if that piece of shit does not speak to local realities; one usually sees the conquered falling over themselves to incarnate it in their lives, and re-echo it in their circumstances. There have been cases were the conquered even began loving their conquerorâ€™s in a Stockholm syndrome gone awry. Such slaveries are total. They last forever. Liberation from such chains is almost impossible. This is because the conquest of a societyâ€™s epistemology means a total control of its perceptual faculties, value system, and sources of psycho-social legitimacy. Whatever would compel a society to exile its own gods and assume that of its conquerors; keep silence at its own plunder; participate in its decimation; help its own cannibalisation and finance its own funeral; must engender some tsunamic bout of self-destruction, before it can succeed. Â Ndiigbo of Southern Nigeria has it that whatever can out-bite a dog has got quite some teeth.
Whenever or wherever this is achieved, local gods are then coaxed to speak in foreign tongues. Alien ceremonies are convoked on hills where local ancestors, once poured libations to the memory of their forebears. Communion wafers are eaten in temples built upon the demolished shrines of our spirits; where our ancestors celebrated their kolanuts in commensality and brotherhood, with the gods of our land in attendance. Wines pressed off European grapes solemnly displace the nourishing and ritual potencies of the fruits of our palms. Â As temperate wines displaced tropical gins, our Earth Mother was denied her due libations. Not only that we could not offer sacrifices to our ancestors due to the indisposition of our chained spirits, the imported deities and their armed convoy of mercenaries, in time, rose to criminalize even our thinking about the august memory of our forebears. We were forbidden even to sit down by our own tropical equivalents of the Rivers of Babylon to weep over our lost innocence. There was no funeral to propitiate our pain. We were not even allowed the luxury of mourning. We are even compelled to forget our mother-tongues, without our tongues cleaving to the roofs of our mouth. The earth housing our umbilical cords in its bosom was desecrated. Â The buccaneers conscripted by foreign realms mocked us as the guardians of our land lay in their conquered state. Our earth was cosmic in her anger. She craved libation to appease her. Since the conquerors could not bring themselves to offer Her â€˜Nkwu enuâ€™*, they resorted to water-boarding her with the blood of her sons and daughters as an abominable libation, which she tearfully swallows; not to nourish herself, but to deny abomination a place in the sun, and spare the elements the pain of that desecration.
Africa is now a society of imported gods!!!!
This explains not only the massive violence with which foreign gods implanted their feet on our firmament; and with which they sustain their precarious hold on the minds and bodies of our people, but also the ease with which we tend to all things foreign as if to say that foreign is synonymous with good.
The soul of the African is now a battlefield for competing epistemologies; a casino for the rogue gambling of foreign nonsense. And we are paying for it in the blood of our people, massacred at the altars of rogue ideologies, to assuage the tenets of foreign dogmas. We are paying for it in the heritage of cognitive dissonance and inferiority complex that dog our individual and collective existence. We are equally paying for it in the destruction of millennium old heritages of our culture and civilization. We are also paying for it in the proliferation of various dysfunctional ideologies, arising out of the crosspollination of various tenets of defunct cultures, which we grant relevance in our lives, and which has continued to weigh down our march to true independence. We are paying for it in the eternal disharmony between our realities and the foreign ideas we profess as valid, even in a continent where many of them will never gain relevance due to the toxicity of these species to the local soil.
This recurring decimal of violence plaguing the relationship between various imported dogmas all over Africa is testament to the fact that the pantheons of our ancestors have been demolished. Our gods were forced into exiles. The deities that sanctioned our consanguinity seemed to have been conquered by the same forces that conquered our lands. We became estranged from our roots, and our most intimate acquaintances. Our brothers in this new conceptual scheme metamorphosed into games for our sport; commodities for our exploitation; and enemies to be massacred at will, because they fly the banners of a dissimilar, imported ideology. The Christian-Muslim conflict that paralyzed Jos, Plateau State a few days ago; and many other such explosions in other parts of Africa, are simply footnotes in this long history of violence that Africans were conscripted to inflict on each other, on behalf of foreign doctrines.
2.Â Egbe eburu Mbe!! (The Kite has Devoured the Tortoise)
The hawk can devour the chicken for breakfast. Nature ordains that. But nature must have definitely gone rogue, for a kite, instead of grabbing a chick for its meal, carries off the tortoise. It is symptomatic of uwa mmebi-nature gone rogue! The natural equilibrium of things is disrupted when nature goes rogue.Â The elements are not in harmony anymore. They run haywire. The gods are angry. The things that were not normal, graduate to daily occurrence. It is in contexts like this that abominations become tradition.
As Africa fell apart at the advancing pestilence of Arabian and European colonial incursions, African gods were sacked and exiled from their abodes. Some of them are now resting as lifeless relics of a primitive past in some European Museum. Our ancestors and living Deads were forced into secretly drinking libations of imported whisky, in cases where they are lucky to get some. In most cases, they were banished to drinking from whichever corrupted stream they could lay their tongues on, or risk an existence characterized by dry throats.
They had no choice since our good old palmwine was dismissed by foreign forces as an instrument of paganism. In this melee, the Ikenga was thrown overboard. Many of them were abandoned, broken, and supplanted with foreign statues, in homesteads, where they held sway before the pestilence. They were broken by their sons, at the nudging of visitors they welcomed with open arms. Insults were heaped upon injuries as their sons became intimate bed mates of the conquering ideologies. To that end, they took to hovering around their former homesteads as strangers would. They were forced into doing the round of Ofekes. Their sons and daughters abandoned them for the Whitemanâ€™s religion. Our feasts and festivals were abandoned as the hangovers of primitive infancy. Our chants and incantations were labelled pagan. Our shrines were left unkempt and allowed to be run over by wild bushes. There was no one in attendance any more at our shrines, groves, and feasts. The Eze muo(s) and Ezeulu(s) were abandoned by the people. The sons of the Eze muo(s) and Ezeulu (s) entered seminaries to become catholic priests. That compromised the future of the Eze muo tradition. Our sacred forests which testified to the ecological foresight of our ancestors lost the battle for relevance to the bugs of bulldozing greed, which preferred concrete blocks to an integral environment. Soil erosion, floods and hitherto unknown climatic phenomenon, all rose to attack our ecological apostasy. We chose the conquerorâ€™s system of government, although it never spoke to our reality. We adopted it although it was fundamentally ignorant of our history. And we practise and are still clinging to it, although it has corrupted our will, destroyed our land and bequeathed us a legacy of mal-development. It was the supreme apostasy. In the fullness of time, we all rose in unison to genuflect subserviently and bow our heads at the altars of foreign gods.
Europe and Arabia conquered not only African lands. They seemed to have conquered the wisdom of our â€œChiâ€** as well; bequeathing us the bloodthirsty fooleries accumulated by these religions in the course of their various histories. Instead of African deities like Agbala*** inhabiting our caves to guard our lands, we were mentally re-engineered into rejecting and displacing Agbala and her ilk, with the tenets of some borrowed faiths. We even captured the potent symbols of our deities and sold them to the Whiteman. Instead of our sacred forests and shrines, our deities are now displayed naked, to be mocked and admired by the uncircumcised eyes of foreigners, in profane exhibitions at the British Museum or the Vatican archives. Deities like â€˜Ikengaâ€™ that bade us purchase our manhood with the currency of honourable deeds, were overthrown by irrationalities like the suicidal cowardice that seeks sex in a paradise of 72 virgins, when we must have finished killing off all those who disagree with the irrationalities we peddle as religion in Allahâ€™s name.
Be that as it may, contemporary events have shown that Africa bowed to the power emanating from the conquerors guns, and not to the logic of their theologies. Till date, no one has been able to convince Okonkwo and the host of other elders gathered in the village square on that day pictured in Achebeâ€™s Things Fall Apart, of the illogicality of the story that God could have a son without a mother. That and many other such dogmas remain constructively illogical to us is never in doubt. But we are asked to believe and propagate them, because they are dogmas! â€"namely: some truths revealed by God, but transcending human comprehension. Remember, they are still trying to explain it to us. I wonder how a reasonable person would spend his time trying to explain what purportedly transcends human understanding to us. Has he understood it? If yes, what does that make of the â€œtranscending human understanding partâ€?
3.Â We Question because we bear the Scars!!!!
Descartes started his revolutionary philosophy with a query. He queried the basis of reality. He did this by querying the apparatus of our knowledge. He questioned our epistemic facilities. He questioned our perceptual faculties. In one swoop, he turned the epistemological basis of metaphysics on its head. How do we know what we know? He arrived at Cogito. He thinks! That he thinks suffices for him to explain his existence. He thinks, and for him to think presupposes that he exists. He thinks, therefore he is. I think, therefore I am. Cogito ergo sum.
Descartes in spite of his other philosophical, scientific and literary achievements, gained admittance into our most august memories as cogito ergo sum! With that, he was fossilized in the minds of modern man. Descartes was a great. Why would he question reality and existence? He could do that not only because he could think, but because he is a part of reality and existence.
Africans have been questioning their predicament because they have been a part of that predicament, both as victims and sometimes as perpetrators of actions that consolidates the predicament. Â We question because our frame bears the scars of our predicament. African sons and daughters have been asking where this rain started to beat us. This is a word in that long strain of questioning. The queries gain more relevance today due to the insistence of our predicament.
Today after years of allegiance to imported deities, the jury is out. We are not developing. We have not attained the utopia that was promised us by these deities. Rather, we have been sucked into a vortex of imperial ruthlessness, where we are used and abused for the amusement of other parts of the world, both by internal and external exploiters. Uhuru has eluded Africa. Alien religions did not bring down their heavens upon our earth. It rather bloodied our earth with the blood of our relatives. Foreign creeds did not cure our petty thieveries. It rather gave us tools to elevate them to the ontological level. Instead of giving us a good life for all, it rather taught us to become robber barons in the name of good economics. It neither banished the human propensity in us to covet; it rather sanctified our covetousness with the holy waters of cant. Instead of stealing to feed our hungry stomachs, we can now steal to feed our avarice. Where Igbo philosophy of man counseled â€œonye aghana Nwanne yaâ€, imported ideologies canonized greed the basis of good economics. It compelled us to dismantle our social ties to feed individual greed for profits. Where our social anthropology counseled â€œEgbe belu ugo beluâ€, imported ideologies countered â€œrout the competitionâ€.
And the results are there for all to see! The scars are scandalous!
We were co-opted in the sale and marketing of our brothers. We were compelled at gunpoint, into trading our future in the unfairest of terms. Africa was depopulated to make Europe and Americas flow with wealth. The crÃ¨me la crÃ¨me of Africaâ€™s posterity was eviscerated. The bridge between the past and the future was torpedoed. The youth that learnt from the elders to hand over to the unborn were forcefully taken across the great ocean; never to come back again. Never to ever fulfill their evolutionary function. With that evaporated millennia-worth of knowledge and experience. Lost forever and never to be regained again. Our homesteads were deprived of defenders. The youths who filled in this role disappeared as if the earth opened up to swallow them. Ours became a society of the old and the infants. That trade decisively changed Africaâ€™s nature, culture, and future. With the slave trade, we allowed and participated in the celebration of a historical atrocity on our soil. We, as a society was conscripted in the sale of our brothers to profit foreigners, as many of us have continued to do till this day. The wailings of our sold brothers and sisters continues to suffuse our ancestors with supplications mourning our stolen heritage. Their backs were broken by drudgery. Their humanity was ripped off them. Many of them were fed to the fishes. Many never got the dignity of a funeral. Many of them died in their chains.
When the industrial revolution rendered slavery unprofitable to their greed, they came for the products of our land. We were forced to sell our commodities at their price. Some of our littoral regions became the Oil Rivers. That name was instructive. We yielded our products to oil foreign economies and the pockets of their robbery gangs, christened traders. We learnt the trade and decided to control our resources. The imperialist grew livid at our quick realization that we could turn the tables to our advantage. Their artilleries were trained at our habitation to lay it to waste. We succumbed to a military invasion designed to control our trade routes. They sacked our kings and exiled our chiefs. Jaja Opobo died in exile. Ovaremwhen Nogbaisi was forced to swallow the defeat of the stool of his fathers. Then the Whiteman took over our government. He hired those at the periphery of our societies and ordained chiefs over us, by his fiat. Colonialism planted its foot firmly on our soil. We left the ways that gave us food without poisoning our environment, polluting our waters, or depleting our soils. We were brought into using chemicals to grow our food and poison our bodies. They brought us diseases we never knew. Instead of cultivating our land to grow our food, we were compelled to cultivate our land to feed foreign industries.
Our motherland still bears the impress of this beast. We are now speaking the language of those who raped us. We were compelled to bury our mother tongues as unprogressive vestiges of inferiority in order to sound modern. At that, we surrendered meaning to what the alien conclaves canonized as such, although local reality kept on exploding our stupidity in this regard. In time we were reduced to murdering our beautiful dialects with dysfunctional embroideries of foreign citadels of meaning.
As all these settled on our embrace, we started believing the view, which defined us as modern and developed, to the extent that we are able to successfully ape the ways and pretensions of the conqueror.
With this dissonance, we internalized the manufactured narrative of inferiority peddled about us. We started arranging and conducting our lives on other peopleâ€™s terms. As we scrambled to come to terms with the shock that has rearranged the tectonic plates of our society, the next shock loomed on the horizon. We were thrown into a dangerous dilemma, and forced to take a stand. Either we define or allow ourselves to be defined according to the canons of this narrative, or we spend our time vehemently rejecting the image of us constructed in this narrative. Either way, we are forced to a reactionary position. It is a dangerous position. Here we can never win, no matter how hard we try. History is a weapon. Whoever tells your story has the keys to your destiny. He can deploy that story to the ends and aims of his choosing. We ran the risk of being conjugated in foreign verbs by narrators, who pontificates over our history to direct our destiny. Or we resist their badges and create our own. Our attempts to create our own were immediately dismissed as heretical dissimulations of victimological nature. The microphone was pried off our hands before we can even announce our names. Our voices and literatures become banished to be read in the dark basements of leftist radicals.
It was a Machiavellian gambit. Imperialism knew that the more time we spend trying to define ourselves or defend ourselves from the definitions peddled about us, the more we lose sight of the big picture. Imperialism subsists on the oppressed losing sight of the big picture. For any imperialistic enterprise to be successful, the target audience must be kept busy pursuing rodents. This keeps them amply busy, while the rogue power delivers the viral software that brainwashes them into believing that it is in their best interest to serve the rogue willingly and religiously.
The conqueror put a knife to cut all that held us together. Our society was torn apart. Our beings became a warfront for conflicting allegiances. This dissonance opened the gates for poverty to invade our experience. Atavistic competition that hallowed individual greed above the common good rose to impious prominence. We joined the orchestra of greed. We learned the philosophy of destruction. To prove our proficiency, we started singing symphonies of exploitation. With poverty, we condemned many of our kind to crime. Our resources could no more finance our existences. We were marched like herds of goats into urban pens, to rip open the bowels of our earth, so that the conqueror would have coal to drive his industries and war machines. We were configured into yielding our labors and resources to service foreign economies. We were rewired and re-tooled into abandoning our needs and aspirations to devote our lives and entire existences to servicing the conqueror needs. None was left for our lives. We called it modernity and civilization. In time we started competing for the most basics of necessaries. Competition invited a jungle. Before we knew what was happening African children were marched off to war; pumped full with drugs and ordered to rape their mothers, cut off their fatherâ€™s genitals, chop off their brothersâ€™ hands and feet, and shoot their most intimate acquaintances in a surreal theatre of oedipal perversity: all in defense and/defiance of geopolitical monstrosities bequeathed to us by Europe as states and nations. Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Uganda, all played hosts to this dimension of bestiality. Our country-sides were turned into murderous battlefields, where we kill each other in the name of our various gods. Jos, Nigeria is one such theatre. African politicians are empowered by the imported cant known as western version of democracy into going up to the capital cities, which ape imperial power centers, to steal legally from the commonwealth, in service to their individual greed. There, they go to execute and crucify the African principle of community, which counseled that the individual exists because his community exists.
The list is so long as to defy enumeration!
4.Â The Neutrality of Ideologies?
Importation of theologies or ideologies is neither positive nor negative in itself. After all, every theology is an agglomeration of borrowed myths and contrived projections. Some are fractionally distilled legends echoing subconscious wishes of the human heart. Others are primitive needs and will to power elevated to the ontological level. But be that as it may, each of these must acquit itself positively if it is to assume some relevance in its new abode. It must conduce to the use designed and intended for it by its importers. If not, it would be jettisoned in time. Human experience has shown that culture is dynamic. Cultures borrow and lend to each other across time and space. They import and export some of their pedestals as contact with others increases. To this end, some have arisen to define civilization as culture at an export level.
I have personal reservations at this definition.
Epistemic Imperialisms and cultures of nihilistic savagery have been exported across cultural lines over time. Besides the fact that my philosophic vocation would never permit an unexamined acceptance of any definition that offers itself up for consideration; I wonder if I would accept that as civilization, without any qualification. Â I eternally refuse to accept the slaughtering of the Mesoamericans into extinction by the rampaging avarice of a buccaneering Europe, as a civilizing mission. If I am to accept that, what would I in justice, tell the Sapa Inca and his Inca people of Peru and South American Andes? Should I tell them to accept their massacre in good faith, as that is the price of civilization? How could I ever justify the plundering, dismembering; the physical and mental enslavement of generations of Africans? Is it civilization that African humanity was packed in the putrid holds of ships; in chains that reeks with inhumanity, and sold off as articles, to masters who would rape their labours, their genitals and their humanity?
Could anyone be justified in labelling that civilization?
I forever refuse to utter or invoke the names of Pizzaro, Cortes, Columbus, Francis Drake, James Cook and other arrant pirates of expired European Empires with any reverence in my breath, no matter what the doctored historical books pretend to tell. Justice and the deities guarding her portals forever hold that the ghosts of megalomaniac rapists like Leopold II, the butcher of the Congo would never rest in any sanctuary of good odour. If Leopold II and other such imperial sadists are not manifestations of savagery, why the pyramid of chopped hands harvested at his orders in the Congo? Is this guy, and every other such knave, not the perfect proof of the obverse of what civilization should be? On the contemporary front, I wonder if I would ever accept the fraudulent falsehoods peddled by Washington under George W. Bush, and Whitehall under Tony Blair to explain away their bowing to the rapacious covetousness of their elitist constituencies for Iraqi Oil, as an operation to give Iraq the gift of democracy. If all these could be accused of being civilizing missions, then we must elevate Adolf Hitler to the sainthood. We should then apologise to the Nazi henchmen executed at Nuremberg. We should beatify the psychotic tyranny of Josef Stalin and all other scoundrels of history.
5.Â Signature of Epistemic Pathology
I was aroused to consider our experience with our imported ghosts due to what has become a consistent festival of socio-cultural disharmony in the interaction between local realities and the constructs we inherited from elsewhere in the recent past. We can confidently say that Africa is now at a great crossroads. Our imported constructs have refused to mix well with our local realities and experience. Imported experiences have continued to settle like oil atop the waters of our indigenous reality and social experience. They have not mixed well. The cognitive dissonance engendered by this situation on the sources of our social legitimacy and epistemic authorities in Africa have been very grave.
Very clear instances of this could be seen in almost all facets of our lives. It could be seen in the way we practice our borrowed faiths; the way we practice our borrowed democracy; the way we practice our borrowed ways of life. The Christian religion for instance, enjoys patronage on Sundays and attracts huge followership, at least nominally across our land. But the Babalawos; the Ezemuo(s); the guardians of our abandoned gods, equally enjoy a business boom. The two pedestals are supposed to be mutually exclusive. But in Africa, one does not exclude the other. We mix the worst tenets and dimensions of them together and the dissonance continues. Another proof of this chaotic and toxic brew emanating from the mixture of these two worlds can be seen in the life of a typical Nigerian car owner or the average driver on the Nigerian road. Many drivers sitting behind the wheels of many cars in Nigeria on any given day never had any formal driving school experience. Many of them donâ€™t even know how to drive, except moving a car from A to B; whatever happens in-between is not their business. Yet, their first port of call on buying a car, is not to the driving school to get some driving lessons, but to pastors, priests and other henchmen and women of God or Satan as their inclinations dictate, to have the vehicles blessed, or evils cast and bound off the cars, so that they would always arrive at their destinations safely, even though they donâ€™t know how to drive.
If we accuse the conquerors of conceptually colonizing us, what do we make of the consistent attempts of our compatriots to massacre meaning at the altars of ignorance? What do we make of those whose delight is in imposing ignorance upon the gullible? In which category should we classify those, who canonize the irrationality of their private neuroses, as pious declarations of the Christian faith? If you think this is a metaphor, then you have not encountered the average Nigerian pastor of a â€œmushroom churchâ€. They have names like Helen Ukpabio, Emeka Ezeugo King. These guys are traders and marketers of mass ignorance. Many catholic and Anglican priests have become vanguards of this charlatanism. Some of them have tapped into this huge reservoir of superstition that the African mind is susceptible to; to wreck inestimable havoc on our posterity.
The greatest crime that these insanities on religious steroids are committing is labeling our children as witches. In the Cross Rivers region of Nigeria, one crazed psychotic declared that we have over 400,000 witches and wizards in Akwa Ibom State. These charlatans commission a heartless assault on childhood. They market sorcery and stigmatize our posterity as witches, thereby handing their ignorant relatives the blank cheque to murder innocence.
Europe hunted women and children down for centuries as witches. Humanity wallowed in this dark recidivist grotto until renaissance came with its enlightenments. We realized the superstitious base of such exorbitant ignorance dressed in the exquisite robes of false spirituality. Before that, millions of men, women, and children have been massacred. Today, these religious henchmen and henchwomen; ignorant scoundrels who are allergic to common sense and the lessons of history, have created a religious abattoir where the psychosocial well being of Nigerian childhood is slaughtered.Â With this Awka Ibom State in Nigeria, and every other such places on our continent have nominated themselves the cemeteries of childhood.
These are signatures of some deep, epistemic pathology that inspires behaviour and action across a broad spectrum of the African population. This is rightly identified because every religion or ideology comes armed with an epistemology. Every imported god comes with its own baggage. Why wouldnâ€™t that be the case, when even the most materialistic expression of empiricism is capable of constructing a metaphysics. This is very simple to see in the daily lives of African societies of contemporary times, as our example above shows. But suffice it to say that such arrant importations of foreign gods, to wear the garbs of our abandoned gods, never bid us refine our iniquitous propensities. History has shown that it rather seems to brew a toxic mix of superstition superimposed and hawked upon a veneer of sciento-technical rationality at best. Or at worst, it essays to displace local value system totally, and imbue the adherents of the new gods with such an epistemic arrogance of absolute proportions; a dogmatic bigotry that is superlatively impervious and allergic to reason; a murderous hatred of contrary viewpoints; and an impulsive readiness to murder opponents on their godsâ€™ behalf. In such contexts, we are not urged to change our cannibalisms, but are better equipped with new conceptual tools to elevate them an ontological notch higher. We are now better equipped to commit our cannibalisms with cutleries instead of the good old fingers. Instead of committing murders in petty forms, we now commit mass murders with better weapons, and better PR managers to ensure an invite for peace talks from the UN.
The list runs through the roof.
The only difference between our old situation and our new status is that we are now armed with a more refined repertoire of hypocrisy to deploy with a clear conscience, whenever we are sinning to our heartsâ€™ content. We are now predisposed to consult these dispositions that are at variance with reason; while advertising our creeds as peaceful. And we do this most solemnly, with the most convulsive and the most obscene version of hypocrisy that is accessible to human stupidity.
This explains why a Christian would steal, rape, plunder lands, exploit peoples, abuse children, and barbecue opponents in bonfires; all in Jesus name. It also underwrites many a Muslim, murdering opponents of his faith while screaming Allahu Alkbar. It confects a justification for many a Jewish agent, putting a bullet in the head of an enemy of Israel while chanting the Shamma Yisrael. This equally explains why religious history has been a pornography of bloodletting. Muslims and Christians have been slaughtering each other and other lesser mortals in their vicinity since both religious attained power and institutionalisation. With hindsight we can say that Achebeâ€™s Okonkwo was right in fighting the marauding bearers of foreign gods that invaded his land. These imported gods seem most times incapable of exorcising us of our worst natures. As many an Islamic terrorist dreamt of sex orgies involving 72 virgins in a paradise, where I doubt they would have need for their penises; as reward for blowing off the heads of innocent men, women and children; Mahatma Ghandi was forced by Christian behaviour into confessing his love of Christ, but disdain of Christians, since his observations taught him that being Christian seems to mean being unlike Christ in all things.
If the cryptic desire to express their repressed sexualities in a heaven of 72 virgins is their only motivation for murder, these guys would have long revised their pretensions. Swing clubs are everywhere on earth to cater to their repressed neurosis. Prostitution happens to be the oldest vocation in history. They knew that they need not murder to gain admittance to a heavenly swing club. Some few dollars or Euros could buy one that pleasure here on earth. But that is not the only motivation. Foreign gods have a knack for blood also.
6.Â Foreign Gods also Drink Blood!
Truth is reality staring at us in its nakedness. She stands on the integrity of her own majesty. Truth needs no violence to peddle her. The audacity of truth is unbearable to false hearts. That is why truth calls for courage to express her. But she needs neither armies nor warriors to peddle or defend her. Inversely, truth requires extraordinary violence to suppress her. But falsehood requires force and the arms of might to peddle her unto acceptance. The unreasonableness of an idea is most times directly proportional to the violence it requires for its defense. This is to say that the more unreasonable an idea is, the more violence it requires to peddle it.
This explains why gods of crooked religions drink blood, lots of it!!!
Thousands of Africans have been slaughtered; offered as unwilling holocausts at the bloodthirsty altars of imported gods. More Nigerians have been killed in the conflict between Christians and Muslims in recent times, than any other singular factor. Every religion sacralizes blood, both actually and metaphorically. But religions with Abrahamic roots seem to be in love with blood.
Not that the same could not be said of many other religions, but its Abrahamic manifestation underwrote and has had more influence in the history of the major imperial enterprises in history, whose heritage we have been forced to share. The Bible; a resource drawn upon by Jews, Christians, and Muslim was a documented odyssey in bloodletting, culminating in the Christian God taking his son to the Mountains of Skull to have him villainously executed, for what Christians construe as a cosmic redemption of mankind. Although this has been another strain of the perennially recycled myth, which can be traced back to the ancient Egyptian god Horus, Jesus the Christ went a step further to elevate love of neighbour, forgiveness, and turning the other cheek, as the centrepieces of his faith. But Christian history has been anything but about turning the other cheek or love of neighbour.
Prior to that drama at Golgotha, Abraham, the father claimed by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the Patriarch of their faiths; in a brutal renunciation of all the natural affiliations commanded by consanguinity, took his son Isaac; his only son, to the plains of Moriah; just like Okonkwo of Achebeâ€™s Things Fall Apart, did the son of his house, Ikemefuna; and there to murder this son of his loins, who calls him father. All because his God decreed it!!!
This may have been where Christians and Muslims of Jos Plateau State borrowed their ideology, of pouring libations with the blood of their fellows, at the altars of these imported gods. If my God who is an absolute value for me, could ask me to renounce my nature; relieve myself of responsibilities of the most intimate bonds of relationship imposed on me by consanguinity; and murder my child for the sake of paradise or to prove my faith; then there are no more restraints holding me back from massacring my neighbour with reckless abandon in the name of my faith or paradise; no matter how neurotic that sounds to rational sensibilities.
Where African gods made do with the bloods of chickens and goats, the imported Deities demand our hearts, our wallets and our blood. Since Islam and Christianity came to Africa, we have witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly. The good have been many. But the bad have been many as well. On the bad side of the ledger, we have been converted into an extended theatre of nihilistic savagery that has characterized the history of both religions from the Middle East through Europe and Arabia respectively. Nigeria for instance, has become the new frontier in the war of one religious ideology over the other.
On the Christian side, we inherited a Christianity armed with over six centuries of experience in murdering its opponents, repression of opposition, epistemic tyranny, crusading, fighting for pieces of choice real estates and getting empires and kings to do their killings for them; spying and torture. It was a Christianity compromised by its schisms and political splits between Anglicanism and Catholicism and their various splinter pockets. This history is equally one, which saw Protestant England and Catholic Northern Ireland murdering each other for God and country over the course of centuries, even to the thresholds of contemporary times. Europe was Christian during the longest period of the celebration of savagery, ever seen by human history known as the 30 year war. It was the Christian Church that bequeathed history the abomination of the Inquisition. Islam is not any better. Islam came with a twelve century old heritage of murder and massacre of those the Koran identified as infidels. Islamic jihads killed millions over 12 centuries.
The cycle of violence at the instance of religion in Africa has been so nauseating that it seems, that every African should now abandon these foreign gods and go back to the gods and goddesses of our fathers. Our fathersâ€™ gods were not gods with imperial pretensions. They had no room in their various Theodicies for categorization of peoples into infidels and believers. Freedom of thought and conscience is the hallmark of their various amphitheatres. They are potent gods that fought for themselves. They never needed the arms of flesh to fight their causes. Yet they were deemed powerless. But they were wiser than the Christian and Islamic gods, who required their followers to fight for them. African gods were thunderous whenever they rise to do battle with their adversaries. They wipe out the families and homesteads of those who committed abomination. They donâ€™t have a problem with those who disagree with them. The pantheons of African gods are democratic and never imperial. That explains why an African can worship so many gods at the same time, without any of them being jealous of the size of sacrificial piece of meat the other one gets. But since Africans embraced the religion of the one who called himself a jealous God; they have been at the forefront of being so murderously jealous on their godâ€™s behalf and murdering their brothers pursuant to that insanity.
7.Â Mercenaries of God
Our ancestors never needed the dogmas of Vatican or the Fatwahs of Mecca to tell them what is good and what the obverse is. Today, our noveaux religieux are simply satellites of the Vatican and Mecca, or other such power centres that dictate on doctrine and dogma. Time was when Vatican told the world â€œExtram Ecclessiam, Nulla Salus estâ€- Salvation could not be had outside the Church. I wonder which salvation that meant. That was conceptual imperialism at its finest. Centuries of Christians believed that papal nonsense.
The renaissance in spite of the impeding conservatism of the Church happened. It gradually eroded the basis of ecclesial authority.Â The church sought to hold itself in balance. It fought losing battles with the new epistemic authority availed humanity by science. It was not until an aggiornamento happened that the church really considered some of the impious nonsense it peddled in the past.Â John XXIII was compelled by modern circumstances to ventilate the stuffy entrails of the church. He opened the window. He let in some fresh air. It was at this time that the Christian church searched for voices within her ranks, which would have been condemned to slow bonfire by the Inquisition, were they born a century earlier, did she try to salvage a little credibility.
To offset the faux pas of the Extram Ecclesiam assertion without losing face, the Church borrowed heavily from one of her sons. Karl Rahner was a brilliant Austrian theology professor, who believed in the church and her salvific mission. It was he who reworked that assertion with all its theological implications. He believed the assertion that salvation could not be had outside the church. But took it a step further to account for the fate of all those who found themselves outside the Catholic Church and millions of other who would never come into that faith. He then extended the definition of the Church. He extended it to include everybody, whether baptised or not. The only ticket now for admittance, unlike in the past definition, is that this person must do good according to the dictates of his conscience, even if he had never heard the name of Christ. He comprehensively baptised everyone a Christian, even those who were born before Christ came. He called them â€œanonymous Christiansâ€. (Lumen Gentium 14-16) That signified the churchâ€™s readiness to moderate that stand. The Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, gave an apostolic blessing to that modification. Â
The former stand is akin to the baloney sold by Muslims that only Muslims will be in paradise. In this purview, which is a licence for conversion or murder, one is allowed either to become a Muslim, risk a second class status or face the sword of the believer. Â
The Christian Church has been a great conceptual and cultural imperialist, thanks to the amorphous nature of its message. This message has the ability of utilizing the vehicles of other cultures to propagate its own. This is what has ensured its survival across time and across various cultures.
Time was when the church needed to go against opposition of learned men, who were busy deploying the intellectual resources and patrimonies of the ancient world in their apologetics against faith. The â€œhereticsâ€ quoted Aristotle and Plato to back up their assertions. Instead of yielding ground to these voices of discontent, the Church rose up to baptise those strains of Aristotle and Plato that conduced to her message and mission, thereby cutting the ground off the feet of the dissenters. Thomas Aquinas took Aristotle to the baptismal font, while Augustine dragged Plato there.
That has been the methodology of the Christian Church since that day in Athens in AD 51, when St. Paul; the very intelligent, epileptic lawyer from Tarsus, and one of the greatest Christian proselytizers; stood in the Acropolis of Athens, rode roughshod on the Athenian concept of the unknown God, to sell them his own version of it. At that encounter at the acropolis, they argued about arguments, but Paul exercised his most delicate craft masterfully. Unfortunately, the Bible did not give us an unbiased account from the side of the Athenians.
Islam does not fare better in this regard. A glance into history would apprise you of this.
To make most of these illogical theologies persuasive to logical minds, who would normally resist these cocktails of myths and borrowed tales, these religions created militant mercenaries out of their adherents, who would be ready at a momentâ€™s notice, to lay down their lives to fight for what the priestcraft of their various persuasions tells them Godâ€™s will is, at any given point in time. The Christian church even went a step farther to make jingoistic militancy and the ability to inflict unrestrained violence on adversaries in Jesusâ€™ name a sacrament. They called it confirmation. When confirmation couldnâ€™t raise enough soldiers to crusade for that choice piece of real estate in Palestine called the Holy Land, the Holy See resorted to selling indulgences and other heavenly real estates, to raise cash to finance the war for the Holy Land. That would not be the end of selling for sordid money, heavenly graces and other mythical appurtenances that confers hope on the people in this vale of tears, while the priestcraft indulged all their appetites here on earth. Islam took it equally a notch higher. It decriminalised murder, in as much as it was committed against an infidel. A crime was cooked to religious palatability. Those who killed for their faith became virtuous. And those who died for it gained an unimpeded access to paradise.
Suffice it to note that religion has effected some of the greatest whitewashings of crime in history. From temple prostitution to the anathematization of sex-one of the most beautiful acts of our natures, religion has most times been at the forefront of delegitimizing every natural delight that makes human life pleasurable. In religionâ€™s name, violence has been baptised and canonized; roguery and plunder whitewashed. In fact, impious neurosis of various shades and forms have been given religious blessings, and forced upon large swathes of ignorant humanity, as absolute truths at which they must bend their knees, in absolute obeisance.
What about the priestcraft of religion?
History has not been kind on the institution of priestcraft of religion. The priestcraft of various religions have been summaries of debauchery. Some priests have been experts in the darkest villainies known to history. Honesty and probity has been foreign to many of them. Total impiety constituted the religion of many of them. Many of them preached virtue on pulpits, while all vices fought for supremacy within them. Many worshipped avarice, ambition and debauchery, using every instrument of treachery, perfidy, flattery, ass-kissing, and so on. In spite of great host of good and holy men and women of various religions, there are many men and women of God, who preached moralities on pulpits and religiously violated every single one of them immediately the light is turned off. Several priests were prominent patrons of irreverent circles. Many of them lie with infernal ease; spent monies skimmed off impoverished people on impious pleasures; affect scandalous piety as respite from adultery; and have Bacchus as the only true god they worship.
Till date, in spite of contemporary catholic attempts at sublimating its violent past and propensities; a departure engendered by the aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council, which reached its apogees in John Paul II apologising to the whole world in 2000 for all catholic atrocities in history; imported theologies have always spawned mercenaries for God since that day at the portals of the garden at Gethsemane, when Simon Peter drew his sword to harvest an ear in defence of his master.
Almost all imported religious are guilty here. They have their soldiers of Christ; soldiers of the cross; Godâ€™s army, Hezbollah-Army of Allah, and so on. Military divisions or armies are never created to serve ice-creams. They are killing machines. Throw religion into the mix, and the most incomprehensible motivation for murder arises. With such armies massed on both sides of religious disagreements and conflicts in Nigeria, blood will continue to flow on such frontlines of war between Christians and Muslims like Jos, Nigeria. Such conflicts will always have hideous results. â€˜Holy thievesâ€™ is not only oxymoronic or a conceptual monstrosity, thieves that pretend to holiness are in actual fact the most dangerous of crooks. This would tell you what happens when murderers in the most proximate potency, are offered religious reason to practice their trade.
8.Â At the Mercy of Alien Doctrines: The Example of â€˜Hardshipâ€™ Allowance
Stealing is an ignoble vocation. But it is a very hard one. I am all for a guy who does the dirtiest job, getting seriously remunerated for his troubles. I mean: he is entitled to hardship allowance. But that job must not be criminal. It must be a legitimate, noble, productive and edifying occupation.Â A thief will never qualify for hardship allowance in my consideration.
No ethical tradition or responsible disposition would ever justify that.
Paying a thief some special allowance to compensate him for his troubles of robbing us, empties productivity of meaning, and plunges society into the paths of retrogression.Â No society has ever advanced, when its citizens are empowered and remunerated to prowl on the lives and property of their compatriots. No society subsists or survives on robbery. Remunerating robbery compromises social progress. And we would never subscribe to that.
Thievery is a base occupation. I can only consider some allowance for a thief; who reserves no other means to survive, outside petty stealing to forestall gastronomic emergency. This allowance would be to wean him off his disreputable occupation, and stabilize him enough to get back to positive employment. Apart from this, I wonder how any sane mind would countenance â€œhardship allowanceâ€ from the community treasury, for a monumental thief, who solemnly steals way beyond the limits of his greedy elasticity. Â I wonder how the people could keep quiet in timid acquiescence, as thieves stake claims to hardship allowance from the commonweal, for the most â€˜difficult jobâ€™ of robbing us with their pens.
If you cannot fathom this, you are in great company. I am also in the company of many normal thinking people, who cannot fathom the Nigerian politician.
The introduction to this piece made it very clear. A country that imports everything including its ideologies is a country enslaved to the capricious whims of the sources of its imports. A country that produces nothing save recycling expired ideologies; regurgitating failed policies; and canonizing her geriatric crooks has nothing of substance to contribute to the march of human civilization. That country deserves to lose its name; be swept into forgetfulness by the ebbs of history, or allowed to disintegrate into its component parts, to see if any productive renaissance could sprout out of such decay.
Nigeria is a case in point here!
We imported Western style democracy. Instead of edifying us and leading us to the fertile shores of development, it has denuded us of our humanity and nourished our greed and avarice. The western style democracy we imported protects neither our lives nor our property. Our ancient African ways kept our society whole, helped us preserve our environment and guaranteed the ecological integrity necessary for integral existence. But the one we imported was the robber-baron version, which canonizes only capital and decapitates men.
To that end, even till today, the crudest version of dysfunctional politics that characterized the medieval courts of Europe, and the corresponding sycophancy that it spawned as it ravaged and pushed Europe into the dark ages, are unfortunately the two most lucrative cottage industries in Nigeria of contemporary times.
These industries promise the greatest return of profits on investments. Godfathers invest their money to buy office in a primeval version of political simony. Influences are traded, sold, and purchased with thuggery, assassinations, threats, inflammation of ethnic allegiances, treachery and an overabundance of backstabbing and perfidy. These two industries employ many otherwise intelligent minds and convert them into citadels of corruption; purchasable consciences only there to attend to the needs of their avarice.
To get to office, they are ready to sell their souls to the infernal powers. Here political simony is the surest route to power. They kick, kill, bite and bribe to get into office. Once in office, instead of taking care of the business of the people, whose supposed mandate they enjoy, they spend their office, principally stuffing and satiating their greed with resources cornered and skimmed off the commonweal. Their second vocation is then settling all the capricious matrices that bought or smoothened their ways to power. Little time and consideration is dedicated to the peopleâ€™s business. They people are never an important consideration in such a scheme. They people are used as cosmetic slogans to hide the rotten metaphysic, which inspired and nourishes their concept and grasp of power. Power is for service, only if the god that desires their genuflection or service is their avarice, and every other minor deity that panders to that.
To this end, the Nigerian politics has become an essential arena where greed marries audacious impunity. We have virtually no opposition party in parliament. This is because the ruling party equally rules the electoral umpire. To win an election anywhere in the country, one must sell his soul to the ruling party. Many of the politicians have no convictions or ideologies of the kind of politics they want to play or represent. All they want is power for its own sake. And they march into the ruling party in droves. They are content in getting into office. They are not content or concerned with achieving anything of substance, while in office. They are clever in their rogueries. Nigerians have been out-dribbled into keeping their eyes shut, while the ruling party runs the affairs of the electoral umpire. And the electoral umpire allows only those who are marked with the signs of the ruling beast. I wonder how the beast would ever allow credible elections, since even kids are suffused with nightmares since they got acquainted with the face of the Nigerian beast. The beast must then rule with the sceptre of iron, and give us scorpions and stones, whenever we ask for bread.
You need not go farther than looking at the quality of debates in all levels of our legislature in Nigeria; from the local councils; through the state houses of assembly to the National assembly. The only debates in these houses that attract strident and vociferous debate, sometimes conducted with fisticuffs is when it comes to the salaries and perks of office of the members of parliament, their budgetary allocation; or the impeachment of a chief executive that refused to bribe them. Other than that, no legislation of substance that has the people as it centre has ever emanated from our senate or house of Reps. But these men are women are paid allowances in excess of what we as a country budget for the education of our children and posterity. It towers over what we budget to eradicate the artificial poverty that our politics and its international supporters have plunged the majority of our people into. It transcends what we budget for agriculture and feeding of our population; it dwarfs what we budget for infrastructure development or in restoring the ecological integrity of the Niger Delta, which has remained a placard of our collective callousness.
These representatives collect sitting allowance for every sitting, even when they are not present. It is a cool investment. You can stay in your house and sleep all day and your sitting allowance keeps on flowing into your account. I wonder how an employee, who plays truancy at work without adequate explanation, could keep his job although his employer is well aware of his antics. It is either that the employer is stupid, irresponsible or compromised. If not, the employee should have been thrown out long ago. If you watch sittings of the Nigerian senate on TV, one is something repulsed by the lackadaisical approach of the Senators to what should be a very serious business. Empty seats stares you in the face. You cannot but ask yourself, where the guy who is supposed to represent your interests seats to do that. He may be representing you by servicing his phallic needs on top of one of his mistresses in a hotel room in Abuja; or he may be busy junketing from one South American capital to the other, since this has become their choice destination for money laundering since Europe and America started trying to set an example with Ibori and Atiku.
The greatest insult to the Nigerian suffering masses, is that these guys who are deluged with unmerited pleasures and perks of office, are in addition to that, skimming serious money off the Nigerian treasury as â€œHARDSHIP ALLOWANCEâ€ for doing simply NOTHING! Quote me: They do nothing!!!
They collect hardship allowance for riding air-conditioned cars, and a kilometre long retinue of security, hangers on, and assistants, when Nigerians have no roads to drive their cars, or an efficient transportation system to cater to their needs.
Many of these guys are conscienceless jobbers. Added to that is their lack of integrity and shamelessness. Many of the Senators have never introduced any bill in the senate since they got in there, in spite of the extreme wastage of resources in maintaining offices that many of them have never sat down in. Many of them have never been to their constituencies except during election campaigns, to get to talk to the people whom they represent about their needs and problems. Yet, many go home with chunky funds for constituency projects, and accounts to no one about that, even though we have never seen many projects across these constituencies to justify these funds; and no one is asking questions about these monies.
Yet we have the scandal called Hardship allowance!
It is simply remunerating robbery. We are paying our politicians for robbing us. That is Nigeria! And this explains why the country is not developing.
* Igbo for Palmwine.
** Chi is Igbo the god guarding the portals of destiny
*** Agbala is Igbo goddess of the caves, which guards our community; a powerful spirit that does great things.